Participation of the actin cytoskeleton in the transduction of proliferative signals has been established through the use of compounds that disrupt the cytoskeleton. To address the possibility that actin also participates in the transduction of an apoptotic signal, we have studied the response of the murine interleukin 2 (IL-2)-dependent T cell line CTLL-20 to treatment with the actin-binding compound jasplakinolide upon IL-2 deprivation. Like phalloidin, jasplakinolide stabilizes F-actin and promotes actin polymerization. Treatment of CTLL-20 cells with jasplakinolide, in the presence or absence of recombinant human IL-2, altered actin morphology as assessed by confocal fluorescence microscopy. Jasplakinolide was not toxic to CTLL-20 cells, nor was apoptosis induced in the presence of exogenous recombinant human IL-2. However, actin stabilization at the time of IL-2 deprivation enhanced apoptosis by changing the time at which CTLL-20 cells committed to the apoptotic pathway. This effect of jasplakinolide correlated with its ability to stabilize polymerized actin, as treatment with a synthetic analog of jasplakinolide with a greatly reduced ability to bind actin, jasplakinolide B, did not enhance apoptosis. The enhancement occurred upstream of the induction of caspase-3-like activity and could be inhibited by the overexpression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-X(L). These data suggest that the actin cytoskeleton plays an active role in modulating lymphocyte apoptosis induced by cytokine deprivation.